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Mar 19, 2007

Cheers and Jeers

It’s not so much about the $200,000 that the government would be able to save per year if all the 42 elected officials and members of the judiciary voluntarily take a 10 percent cut in their salaries, as reported by Marianas Variety. (What is $200,000 a year versus the $150,000 that the Fitial administration will be paying a mining consultant in connection with the selling of Pagan’s volcanic ash, other independent contractors and political hires?)

It’s more of sharing the burden in these tough economic times.

A government employee who earns $13,000 a year gets a 10 percent cut in his salary, while a lawmaker who earns close to $40,000 a year is not exempted from the cut, thanks to Public Law 15-24 or the austerity Friday law. Members of the CNMI Supreme Court and Superior Court, who earn much more than $13,000 or the close to $40,000 by lawmakers, also don’t get pay cuts.

How could top elected officials expect lower paid government employees and the community at large to believe in them if they don’t lead by example? During the last elections, these leaders promised to work for the people and with the people but are now singing a different tune.

Public Auditor Mike Sablan, as quoted by Marianas Variety, said it well: “The voluntary acceptance of a 10 percent reduction by all elected officials and members of the judiciary would serve as a morale booster and encourage employees throughout the government to be more supportive and understanding of their forced reduction in pay.”

But of course, there is a separation of powers. The executive branch can’t tell the legislative branch or the judiciary branch what to do in these tough economic times. They already know what to do…right?

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